The Lactococcus lactis ccpA gene, encoding the global regulatory protein CcpA, was identified and characterized. Northern blot and primer extension analyses showed that the L. lactis ccpA gene is constitutively transcribed from a promoter that does not contain a cre sequence. Inactivation of the ccpA gene resulted in a twofold reduction in the growth rate compared with the wild type on glucose, sucrose and fructose, while growth on galactose was almost completely abolished. The observed growth defects could be complemented by the expression of either the L. lactis or the Bacillus subtilis ccpA gene. The disruption of the ccpA gene reduced the catabolite repression of the gal operon, which contains a cre site at the transcription start site and encodes enzymes involved in galactose catabolism. In contrast, CcpA activates the transcription of the cre-containing promoter of the las operon, encoding the glycolytic enzymes phosphofructokinase, pyruvate kinase and L-lactate dehydrogenase, because its transcription level was fourfold reduced in the ccpA mutant strain compared with the wild-type strain. The lower activities of pyruvate kinase and L-lactate dehydrogenase in the ccpA mutant strain resulted in the production of metabolites characteristic of a mixed-acid fermentation, whereas the fermentation pattern of the wild-type strain was essentially homolactic.